Varsity Basketball

McPherson girls tournament, Day 1

3:14 p.m. — Olathe South leads 27-11 after the first.

Valley Center led 9-4 in the first three minutes on hot shooting from Elayna Coleman and a three by Beth McCormick.

Olathe South had missed its first three shots. But it hit seven straight, including five three-pointers. Amazing.

Oh, and Natalie Knight had one of the sweetest plays I’ve seen in high school, boys or girls. On a fastbreak, she shook her defender by  dribbling behind her back and getting the easy layup.2:53 p.m. — It’s girls tournament time! I’m at McPherson for the first game between Olathe South (9-0) and Valley Center (3-7). Olathe South is experienced, the defending 6A champs and one of the favorites to win 6A. Valley Center is extremely young, with one junior and one senior. And one key player is out with an injury suffered during winter volleyball.

I’m veering away from basketball for a moment.

I love this tournament. I love the atmosphere, the teams, the coaches, the people.

The people here are so friendly and welcoming. Carol Swenson not only runs an impeccable tournament, but he’s one of the nicest guys. I talk to him about his grandkids and he asks me about my kids. The stats folks are the best around and so dang nice.

It’s like a reunion every time I come here, which is cool. Maybe it’s because they don’t see me very much, but it’s wonderful to feel like people are genuinely glad to see you. It makes covering games that much more fun.

OK, back to basketball.

I’m looking forward to seeing teams I haven’t seen yet this season. I’ve seen the Goddard girls, and that’s it. Olathe South has Natalie Knight, a player I selected for All-State last season and have watched since she’s a freshman.

Valley Center is out on the floor now, with the game about to start, wearing all black uniforms with purple stripes down the sides. I’m sitting here in jeans … oh, you don’t need to know that.

The refs are using pink whistles, and Joe Kleinsasser is one of the refs. He told me a joke before the game — A coach says to a ref, I think I found your cell phone. Ref: Why do you think it’s mine? Coach: Because it says it has 13 missed calls.